Song review - Yaha Phoola Na Khilecha

Jitendra Bardewa wrote Yaha Phoola Na Khilecha and Sharan Pradhan composed it. Aruna Lama recorded the song in the early 1960s. It is one of the earliest songs, if not the first song, recorded by Aruna Lama.

Yaha Phoola Na Khilecha is an iconic song for Aruna Lama. Darjeeling saw one of its most glorious days in Nepali music during the early 1960s. Senior musicians like Amber Gurung, who had founded Art Academy of Music, were in Darjeeling. Young artists like Aruna Lama were at the Academy. After the West Bengal government in 1960 appointed Gurung as Music Director of Folk Entertainment Unit (Lok Manoranjan Sakha), Gurung could not give much time to the Academy, which, around 1962/63, was closed.

Artists like Karma Yonjan, Gopal Yonjan and Dilmaya Khati joined the Himalaya Kala Mandir, Gopal Yonjan also worked as Gurung's assistant at the Unit. At the same time, other artists, led by Sharan Pradhan, Ranjit Gazmer, Aruna Lama and Jitendra Bardewa, formed the Sangam Club.

Around 1962, there used to be a big rivalry between Aruna Lama and Dilmaya Khati. Aruna Lama used to sing from the Sangam Club and Dilmaya Khati from the Himalaya Kala Mandir. Peter J Karthak, who was also with the Sangam Club, recalled, "Whenever they were to come on stage, the entire Darjeeling town would tremble. 'Dilmaya Khati is coming' - that was enough to warm up the cold Darjeeling city. 'Aruna Lama is coming' - the environment would liven up even more."(1) He mentioned that Amber Gurung, who used to be in the panel of judges during those competitions, used to have a hard time choosing a winner. "He often diplomatically took turns to declare the winner - in one competition, he would make Aruna Lama the winner and Dilmaya Khati the runner up, and in the next competition, he would make Khati the winner and Lama the runner up." Karthak recalled, "He wanted to make sure there were no controversies and that the people also were satisfied, as they could resort to riot if they thought the decision was not fair."

This song is also one of those songs that mark the competition between the Sangam Club and the Himalaya Kala Mandir and between Aruna Lama and Dilmaya Khati. In one competition in Darjeeling, when the members from the Sangam Club found out that Dilmaya Khati from the Himalaya Kala Mandir was performing, they immediately had their lyricist, Jitendra Bardewa, come up with a song for the competition. Bardewa came up with Yaha Phoola Na Khilecha and Sharan Pradhan provided music to it for Aruna Lama to sing at the competition.

Aruna Lama won the competition for her performance of Yaha Phoola Na Khilecha and at the same time Dilmaya Khati was also declared a co-winner of the competition for her own performance. Marking a rare occasion on such music competitions, they both were winners.

Aruna Lama's win from this song also defined her career because she started being identified also for her enormous talent in singing melancholic songs (Yaha Phoola Na Khilecha was a song of this category.)

About this song, Sharan Pradhan had recollected in an interview, "After Amber Dai's [Gurung] departure, we had formed an organization, the Sangam Club. We recorded the first song, Yaha Phoola Na Khilecha, from the Sangam Club. People loved this song, which Aruna [Lama] had recorded, very much. Then we recorded Hera Na Hera Kancha (Aruna Lama and Jitendra Bardewa were the recording artists,) which people liked so much that it went on to become a legacy of my life."(2)

The song includes verbs Khilecha and Khilnu. They are not to be confused with the Nepali verb Khilnu, which has a different meaning. They are Hindi words, meaning to blossom, and their close Nepali counterparts are Fulecha and Fulnu. A native of Darjeeling, Bardewa's choice of the Hindi words in the song also demonstrates the intersection, at the time, of various aspects of the Hindi and Nepali languages in Darjeeling, an Indian town east of Nepal with people mostly of Nepali origin.

1. Basnet, Basanta. "Darjeeling-ko sargam" [Gamut of Darjeeling]. Nagarik [Kathmandu] 15 Feb. 2015: 7. Print.
2. Ajar Amar Geetharu. Ujyaalo 90 Network. Kathmandu. 1 May 2016. Radio.



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